Performers have to suffer for their art in a variety of ways. When it comes to some of the actors listed here - wearers of a variety of iconic motion-picture outfits spanning serial killers, superheroes, robots, and extraterrestrials - many wore outfits that impeded their hearing, vision, and ability to use the facilities. Many attended mime classes to convey their performances through sheer physicality. And one even had to walk around the set covered in lubricant!
Behold, a list compiling several behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the actors behind many of the coolest-looking characters and creatures of cinematic legend. Vote for your favorite (and least favorite) making-of tales below.
David Prowse Wore A T-Shirt And Swim Trunks Under The Darth Vader Suit
Though James Earl Jones may have provided the unforgettable voice of Darth Vader throughout decades of Star Wars franchise installments, the original actor inhabiting that iconic costume was 6'6" British bodybuilder David Prowse, a Hammer horror film veteran. "We were filming [the original Star Wars film] during the hot summer of 1976," Prowse explained in a BBC interview.
"The suit was made from quilted leather," Prowse continued. "I wore a T-shirt and a pair of swimming trunks underneath - and the heat would rise into the mask and mist up the eye-piece, so you couldn't see where you were going!"Cool story unmasked?
Chewbacca Performer Peter Mayhew Invented The Character's Head Tilt Out Of Necessity
A StarWars.com compilation of Chewbecca factoids suggests that the original character performer Peter Mayhew revealed in a 2014 MegaCon panel that he developed Chewbecca's signature head tilt move because the 7'2" Mayhew frequently had to duck around the film's set to make his way through doors.
"[Original series writer/director/producer] George [Lucas] told me right away it was going to be a mime character, because they put the noises on afterwards," Mayhew said of his performance as that lovable Wookie in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. "It makes it easier for me because just try making loud enough noises through a mask! It’s very hard, so you do as well as you can, and then they take it to the sound studio and put their own voices in it. It’s not easy, really."Cool story unmasked?
Robert Englund Had To Keep Reminding Himself Not To Pick His Nose While Wearing The Freddy Krueger Glove
Though he would ultimately serve as Freddy Krueger across eight films in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, it took Robert Englund some time during the original 1984 film to get acclimated. The Freddy makeup was a complicated collection of prosthetic pieces that took several hours to apply every morning of production.
"Every day, I was in that [makeup] chair for three to four hours or more," Englund explains on his personal website's FAQ. "Four hours to be camera ready with the jigsaw puzzle of 12 or more pieces of pre-painted foam latex glued to my face with the seams blended together. Then I’d wear Freddy’s teeth and sometimes contact lenses."
One particular element of Englund's outfit made certain knee-jerk behaviors a bit tough: Freddy's "knife glove," with sharpened blades in place of fingernails.
“The prop glove was a new experience, and I had to constantly remind myself I was wearing it lest I involuntarily pick my nose,” Englund said of his learning curve as Freddy in a Como Audio discussion.Cool story unmasked?
The 6'10" Nigerian performer Bolaji Badejo set the tone for the physicality of all Xenomorphs when he portrayed the original lethal critter in Ridley Scott's first Alien (1979) movie.
“I could barely see what was going on around me,” Badejo revealed in a 1979 interview (as recounted in a more recent CNN piece), “except when I was in a stationary position, while they were filming. Then there were a few holes I could look through... It was terribly hot... I could only have it on for about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. When I took it off, my head would be soaked.”
Another element made Badejo's incredible performance as the Xenomorph all the more impressive: the substance used to cultivate the look of the alien's acidic spit. "We tried wallpaper paste, all sorts, but KY Jelly just so happened to work,” special effects supervisor Nick Allder revealed to CNN. "We ended up phoning round every hospital and pharmacy open in the area, asking to buy as much as they would let us have. We sounded like sex maniacs.”Cool story unmasked?